The Mechanic – Issue 149 – Fuel problems

Reports in Transporter Talk Issue 148 of Club
Members having blocked fuel lines chimed
with us as our 1970 Bay has recently suffered
similarly and others may wish to benefit from
our experience.
The MOT was due 2 weeks before our ferry was
booked for a 3 week holiday in France. I cast
my eye over everything and found nothing
wanting so went off to my friendly testing
station with confidence. However, mindful of
repeated warnings in Transporter Talk of the
fire risk from perished fuel lines I asked Roy, the
tester, what his opinion was of my fuel hoses.
All seemed fine, but with the engine running
Roy uncovered a small leak between the pump
and the carb. It hadn’t been evident to me or
Roy when the engine was still and there had
been no smell of petrol. I was grateful for
Roy’s experience. He replaced all the rubber
pipes and the in-line filter (£90!); the MOT was
secured and we were set fair for our holiday.
Off we sped (?- well 55mph!) down the A1M,
but approaching Peterborough we ran into
a congestion standstill and discovered that
tickover had disappeared. Crawling in thick
traffic was a real pain, constantly having to
juggle the clutch and the accelerator, but
otherwise we could make good progress and
we reached our overnight Dover campsite OK.
I took out the slow running jet; that looked
clear, but I baulked at taking the carb off, with
diminishing daylight and without the resources
of my garage at home. We considered
soldiering on to France but the prospect of
trying to access the ferry without slow running
decided me to seek professional help. If I
tackled the carb myself we were going to miss
our early morning ferry booking anyway.
We phoned our predicament to DFDS
Ferries and did a quick internet search on
the smartphone which lead us, with Satnav
guidance, to a likely garage in Dover. They
could tackle the problem, but only in 3 day’s
time and directed us to another garage.
They immediately redirected us to Cowens
Motors (Unit 11, Holmestone Road, Coombe
Valley Industrial Estate, CT17 0UF Tel 01304
207743) where we received a warm and
friendly welcome from Ian, the proprietor. He
was enthusiastic about tackling our problem,
having cut his teeth on Beetles and early
Transporters, but he already had a Bay for that
day’s work. We killed a day visiting the White
Cliffs, very interesting and were back early next
morning at Ian’s garage. 2 hours (and £90 later)
we were sorted, carb cleaned out and engine
retuned; it had never run so sweetly in the 41
years we have owned it! Definitely recommend
Ian! Off we raced to get the next available
ferry, an extra £50! and the holiday was really
under way.
All went well for the next 1000 miles: the van
ran like a Swiss watch! However, leaving Albi
and following a slow lorry up a hill with a tail
of impatient French cars behind us, the engine
suddenly cut out and we kangarooed to a halt.
Initially we had tickover, but nothing more
unless I pumped the accelerator jet. Then
tickover disappeared too. We limped in to a
lay-by and thankfully the shade of a tree and
rang the rescue service. Although they were
initially somewhat slow to understand our
predicament, they eventually cottoned on and
2 hours later a friendly French mechanic in a
rescue truck hauled us off to the yard at Garage
Pradelles Roland in Lisle sur Tarn. Language was
a bit of a problem as our schoolboy French was
not quite their Occitaine dialect. They called
in a neighbouring Madame who spoke some
English and we got talking. Again they were
too busy to start our job until the next day
and it was late afternoon by now. We rang to
advise the rescue service and they went away
to organise a hotel and taxi for us , although
the garage kindly said we could camp in their
yard and have a key so we could use their
toilets overnight. Communication with the
rescue service became problematic due to
our not having registered our trip for voicemail
purposes, but before our accommodation
needs could be sorted one of the mechanics
strolled out of the garage and indicated I
should start the engine while he diddled
the carb. He raced and raced the engine and
eventually, after much dying and starting, it ran
on its own, though still not on tickover. He then
started fiddling with the points, took them out
to reface them and put them back, but to no
avail. Finally, he thought of the slow running
jet, removed it, declared it “merdoise” (a rude
French word we did understand!), dragged an
airline from the garage, blasted out the jet and
its socket, and “Sacre Bleu”all was well again! He
then took us for a hair-raising trial run where
the Transporter French Land Speed Record
was broken before handing the keys back in
to my trembling hands, and relieving me of
E89 (say £82). Worth every penny just for the
So we were able to move on and camp nearby
that night, much to my wife’s disappointment
at missing a night in a posh hotel! And much
to our dismay as that night a frightening
thunderstorm in the early hours brought down
large bits of shading trees all over the campsite,
enough to make a small dent in our roof!
After that, what else could go wrong? Thankfully
nothing did and we were able to enjoy the rest
of the holiday on the Loire and Somme, but
with some apprehension the carb would block
again: but it hasn’t in a further 1,000 miles. So
what lessons to draw?
1. Check your pipes with the engine running.
2. Make sure the new pipes are clean inside
before fitting them.
3. Consider cleaning the carb when you fit
new pipes.
4. Sort your voicemail before you venture
abroad, BUT don’t be afraid of going: your
problems will get sorted and you will meet
some really nice people.
Well, we’re already planning next year’s trip.
Robert Girt.
Hi Robert, The Mechanic truly enjoyed reading
your tales of trips abroad. I hope our members
enjoy it also. There are some good points made
at the end that are definitely worth taking
note of.
Now we call upon some help from some
of the conversion experts out there!